Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cultural Dinner Show at Barbara's Restaurant in Intramuros

We dropped by Barbara's Restaurant for a dinner buffet and their cultural dinner show. It was our first time in Barbara's and to be frank, I was not expecting much, but the night turned out to be a lot of fun! I had been seeing buffet offers left and right and that somehow conditioned me to expect a lot more food in any buffet, so I was a bit disappointed to learn that there were only a few dishes available in Barbara's buffet. The cultural show, however, that one I completely underestimated. I was expecting one or two numbers with the dancers in an elevated and faraway stage. Boy was I wrong! That cultural show was the best part of the evening.

Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros
facade
Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros
exterior walls of Plaza San Luis

When we arrived, a band was playing. We were ushered to our table and the band continued playing with their stringed instruments as we ate, performing songs such as A Little Night of Music, Let It Be, Yesterday, and Dahil Sa 'Yo.

musicians at Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros

At around 7:15pm, the musicians were replaced with dancers. Soon, everyone was crowding around the group to get a better view as these dancers swayed to various traditional music. They danced continuously for about an hour, with costume changes in between numbers. Some of the dances they performed: Binasuan, Tinikling, Pandanggo sa Ilaw, La Jota ManileƱa, and Sayaw sa Bangko. Up until now, I never really got excited with folk dances. As a kid, we had to learn them at school but I never really appreciated them (and I hated Binasuan because the glass on top of my head fell and shattered during freshman high school!) but seeing them being performed by graceful professionals with colorful costumes, impeccable hair, and a perpetual smile made me swell with nationalistic pride.

cultural dancers at Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros
dancers with their colorful costumes

Check them out!








After the performance, the guests were coaxed to try dancing the tinikling, followed by a photo session with the dancers.

cultural dancers at Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros


Taste
The menu for that night:
  • cream of mushroom soup
  • ensaladang mustasa
  • fettucini with fresh tomatoes
  • stir-fried veggies
  • beef caldereta
  • Silva style fish
  • chicken with rosemary balsamic sauce
  • coffee jello
  • sweetened cassava
The soup was okay. The fettucini was cold. I was not sure if that was intentional (cold pasta) but I would have preferred it to be hot. I skipped the caldereta because it looked very oily. The fish and the chicken were both good. I came back to the buffet table a few times just to refill my plate with those two.

There were not much choice when it came to drinks so we just ordered Coke. We were surprised that Barbara's didn't have Filipino-type drinks such as buco juice or sago't gulaman. I think those drinks would have been more appropriate to the restaurant's theme.

buffet at Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros
buffet at Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros
Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros


Affordability
The dinner show was well worth the money because the restaurant looked amazing and the cultural dances were very entertaining.

cultural dinner show dances at Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros


Interiors
Barbara's Restaurant evoked an old-world charm. Even the staff were wearing traditional clothes. From entrance, throughout dinner, and until exit, you would be fascinated. You would have an understanding of how the rich people in the Philippines feasted 150 years ago. It was like attending Kapitan Tiyago's party at the start of Noli Me Tangere.

Several crystal chandeliers cast a warm, yellow glow that flattered everything and everybody. Deep-colored wood with intricate engravings peppered the place and the staircase was just gorgeous! Even the comfort room was nicely decorated, preventing it from appearing too antiseptic.

Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros
dining area
pianist at Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros
the pianist
antique patina at Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros
antique statue, patina and all
silver gilted-mirror at Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros
large silver-gilted mirror
silver gilted-mirror at Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros
another silver-gilted mirror on the way to the comfort room
staircase at Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros
beautiful staircase


Cleanliness
The dining area as well as the comfort room were clean. The abundant wood were polished.

comfort room toilet at Barbara's Restaurant Intramuros
comfort room

Service
Service here was good. The staff were warm and friendly. The manager Ms. Quimpo (I hope I got her name right) came to our table and chatted with us. At first I thought she was the Barbara, but she informed me that Barbara was Barbara Gordon de los Reyes, ex-Senator Richard Gordon's sister. She also introduced us to a female staff who was assigned to our table. Later on, Ms Quimpo came by and chatted with us again, this time introducing another manager.

We appreciated that these two managers took the time to talk to us, even though we were just two very casually-dressed ordinary people, not rich or popular or with a big group or with foreigners. They seemed sincere and I doubt they were nice to us because they thought we would be blogging about our visit (in fact when they asked us why we were taking notes and pictures and we answered that they were for a blog, they seemed confused and asked us what a blog was).

Ms Quimpo told us that some of the dancers were dance scholars, which I thought was great. Those kids were staying in school, keeping fit with all that dancing, staying out of trouble, while at the same time preserving our culture for the next generation to enjoy.

One tip: if you will be dining on a cultural show night, arrive early and finish your food right away because once the dances start, you will have a hard time eating. The lights will be dimmed and unless you are seated near the performance area, you will most likely abandon your food to get a closer look at the dancers.




Barbara's Restaurant
Plaza San Luis Complex, Gen. Luna St.
Intramuros, Manila
Web site


32 comments:

  1. i wanted to have a house like that!! the whole place is amazing! i can remember seeing stuff like this here in singapore like raffles hotel!xx

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    Replies
    1. It's grand but might be a pain to maintain unless you have a really large family or lots of helpers :)

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  2. THis is something new for me and for sure patok ito. Kaya siguro hindi na kompleto 'yong mga dishes na available dahil maraming customers. This is something to watch out for. I want to try it too :)

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  3. This is the second blog post about Barbara I've read, and I've been convinced twice already to try this resto out. I always see in Intramuros but for some reason I never tried it. Nice to read about the service. I appreciate friendly managers, especially of boutique restos like this, cuz I'm more interested in the history/background of the place than the food (I'm not really a foodie). I'll watch the vids another time as it's way past my bedtime. :))

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  4. I suddenly missed my dance troupe days in PNU-AC. If I have to visit this place it would be for this grand cultural show and not for the foods though they looked awesome too.

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  5. Siguro, without a doubt, it would bring you back to the old times. Like how Filipino culture and traditions were during the times of our grand parents. It's nice to know na there are some places/restos who makes gimmicks (sorry for the lack of better word) like these kasi it would make you appreciate the culture of the Filipinos/Philippines. And food menu was indeed awesome.

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  6. the architecture and the interiors are fascinating.
    is it just me or the stairs are somewhat scary? @_@

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  7. i love the place. somewhat a trip back in history.

    ~germeline

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  8. I always love my visits in Intramuros. I was just there a few months back, but dined at the restaurant that was adjacent to the San Agustin Church. But for some reason, I son't always get impressed with the food. Now, there were a few good dishes, just like the ones that you pointed out. But nothing that would really tickle my fancy. But enough about that, I'm actually smitten by your review of the cultural dance. I'm not a fan either. But basing it on your review, I would probably give it a shot soon. So thanks for sharing this to us. =)

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  9. ganda ng nababasa q na reviews about barbaras... will visit the place this month...tnx for sharing this

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  10. And you just reminded not to be late for such events
    I was invited here for a pre wedding dinner party last December
    Along with friends, I was late and they waited for me..
    on our arrival, we missed the cultural show for a good 5 minutes..
    A letdown and lessoned learned..
    Though my friends easily forgave me for it, they'd never let me forget.. waahhh!

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  11. Thanks for this nice information I am going to jot this down on my notes so I am not going to forget. My husband will like this, at least I know where to bring him if he wants to watch cultural show..

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    Replies
    1. if you have kids, bring them along too. there were many kids during our visit, and even they were hooked with the dances!

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  12. the dance presentations reminds me of my elementary years..hahaha..nice dances..

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  13. Nakakatuwa diba? I got to watch and dine their for free and it was mindblowing.

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  14. The ambiance of the place is great! I miss seeing those kind of dances. :)

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  15. I am interested with this resto, hope to visit unique resto like this if I have time.

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  16. nothing beats a good entertainment with good dinner.

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  17. we've been to INTRAMUROS but we're not able to dine in BARABARA's. the atmosphere in this famous landmark truly is engaging and enchanting. it's like we are in the SPANISH regime.

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  18. i'm a sucker for cultural dances and often watches one on weekends when i was studying in PLM in intramuros.miss those times and your post made me reminisce a bit...

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  19. I never ever get a chance to visit Intramuros. I hope next time I'm back home I get a chance to visit for few hours. Cheers for your lovely post. :)

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  20. Barbara Restaurant has one of the best cultural presentation. I love the banana fritters and fried lumpia there. I am so honored that Mr. JC De Los Reyes picked my blog among all the other entries in the recently concluded Intramuros Bloggers Challenge 2012. www.yummytales.com and I will have another take on Barbara's Restaurant real soon! I am so excited!

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  21. was this a house before? who owned it? Is it a heritage house? If so then this is one good example of adaptive use.

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    1. Not sure if it was an ancentral house. The resto is owned by Mrs. Barbara Gordon de los Reyes.

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  22. i want to to experience dining there too. must have been a really unique experience watching a cultural show. too bad food choices were limited.

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  23. ganda naman dito... it's good to know na meron pa ring nagpapalaganap ng ating makalumang kultura. Yahweh bless.

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  24. I used to visit this place when I was still in college. Went to Letran so sobrang lapit lang :)

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  25. If someone makes a movie inspired by the novel "Noli Me Tangere," the place would form a good backdrop for the chapter about the dinner hosted by Capitan Tiago.

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  26. Your review is very helpful. Can't sleep thinking about this. :D Will be visiting Manila soon and am now dreaming of Intramuros and Barbara's. I was there this weekend and I loved the old world charm. The food is not exactly what you call fantastic, but it's not bad either... Looking forward to my next visit. Great blog <3

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  27. Thank you so much for sharing this info! I'm having some difficulty in where to bring our honored Japanese guest after a change of schedule. This is wonderful since this shows our rich cultural heritage plus trying out our amazing Filipino dishes! Thank you again! ;) im contacting the restaurant now for our reservation.

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